The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) held a Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy in Cancun, Mexico last week. Mexico’s Economic Minister Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal led the dialogue along with a number of high-level officials from almost 40 countries as well as stakeholders from industry and civil society.  I had the honor serve as a Vice Chair for the meeting and to represent the United States along with colleagues from other agencies.

Secretary Penny Pritzker kicked off the event with a strong speech on the importance of the global digital economy and keeping the Internet open and free. The conversation that took place for the following two days was lively and centered on foundational issues for the digital economy, including increasing connectivity, improving consumer protection, preserving an open Internet, and improving trust in security and privacy.  Luckily, we did not have to start from scratch. The OECD has four policy guidelines addressing these topics and last week we re-affirmed the importance of these documents.

During the OECD Opening Ceremony Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and other high level leaders spoke about the importance of getting everyone around the world connected. [State Department photo]

OECD’s recently updated Consumer Protection in eCommerce recommendations and the Digital Security Risk Management for Economic and Social Prosperity recommendations are important guiding documents for addressing the issues in their respective areas, particularly for countries that have not yet started to develop policies for fully embracing the digital economy.

These instruments combined with the Principles for Internet Policy Making and the OECD Privacy Framework make-up a suite of policy strategies that are designed to support investment, competition, and growth in the digital economy while building trust in important areas such as security and privacy.

Ambassador Sepulveda moderated a panel on Improving Networks and Services through Convergence. [State Department photo]

Though these are complex issues, we must get the policies around them right as we bring more countries into the digital economy. These documents embody principles that will encourage innovation and investment while delivering the benefits of the digital economy to an increasingly larger share of the population. More broadly, getting more people connected -- with the aspirational vision of getting everyone connected -- is the key to truly building and realizing the potential of the digital economy. That’s why the State Department launched the Global Connect Initiative with the goal of connecting the next 1.5 billion people by 2020.

The ultimate outcome of the Ministerial on the Digital Economy was the adoption of the Cancun Declaration, a powerful collection of principles that commits all 41 signing countries to the goals of ensuring the digital economy will live up to its promise of providing economic growth and social prosperity. Those principles include an open Internet, support for the free flow of information, a commitment to stimulate digital innovation and creativity, promotion of risk management practices to strengthen trust in security and privacy, and a commitment to reduce impediments to e-commerce within and across borders.

The declaration firmly underlines the fact that a secure, stable, open, and accessible Internet depends on the ongoing multi-stakeholder, consensus-driven development of global technical standards. It calls for signatories to support open, transparent, and inclusive processes in global multi-stakeholder Internet governance. The signatories further pledged to collaborate to respect and preserve the fundamental openness of the Internet when enacting policies to protect consumers’ and users’ privacy, security, and intellectual property.

The Closing ceremony allowed for the formal adoption of the declaration and a chance for Vice Chairs, including Amb. Sepulveda to summarize the meetings accomplishments. [State Department photo]

This shared vision, combined with the policy frameworks contained in the OECD key instruments, put us on the path to success of fully realizing the benefits of the digital economy. As the head of the United States delegation, I was proud to sign the Cancun Declaration. The United States strongly supports the goals included in the Cancun Declaration and looks forward to collaborating with other OECD member countries and all stakeholders to bring them to fruition.

About the Author: Daniel Sepulveda serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy in the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (EB).

For more information:

Read U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker's remarks from the OECD Ministerial Meeting.

Learn more about the State Department's Global Connect Initiative.

Read more DipNote blogs from Ambassador Sepulveda on internet governance and internet freedom.

Show more